Vigil for chicken industry victims

A vigil was held in Auckland by SAFE on 17 August to commemorate the millions of New Zealand chickens that suffer short and brutal lives when raised for meat. 90 animal activists each held a body of a dead chicken representing the 90 million birds killed every year in this country. The eye-catching vigil was part of SAFE's Stop Factory Farming month.

Meat chickens have been selectively bred for fast growth and reach slaughter weight at only six weeks of age. This has created a genetic freak that suffers from major health problems such as lameness, leg weakness, heart disease and sudden death syndrome.

A genetic horror

"On New Zealand farms nearly 10,000 chickens die of disease every single day," says SAFE Executive Director Hans Kriek. "Many of these chickens are so badly crippled that they can't reach food or water and succumb to hunger and thirst."

"Due to the unnatural genetic make up of the bird, there is currently no commercially produced chicken product on the market that could be described as humane," says Mr Kriek.


Emmett Skilton of TV show Almighty Johnsons participated in the vigil. "As much as I didn't want to hold a dead animal in my hands, I took part because these animals need our help. Our abhorrent treatment of chickens sends chills down my spine and nearly gets me in tears. It is up to us, the consumers, to speak up for those who cannot and stop factory farming."

The bodies of the chickens were collected from farms in the Auckland region and all died from disease and other health problems. After the vigil the chickens' bodies were buried in a ceremony at an animal sanctuary and a memorial garden planted.


Boycott all chicken products

SAFE believes that once people become aware that chickens raised for meat suffer just as much as battery hens and pigs in crates many will choose no longer to support this cruelty. "A consumer boycott is the only effective way to end this suffering," says Mr Kriek.